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3 things from a back and forth Mavericks loss to the Spurs, 117-119

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The battle ended in heartbreaking fashion.

San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It was a game of runs that Dallas found itself on the wrong side of. At various times in the game, both teams led by as many as nine points. The Spurs held that lead with 3:22 to go in the fourth, but the Mavs did enough to pull level at 117 all before a DeMar DeRozan analytics-defying step-back 20-footer put the nail in the Mavericks’ coffin.

Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic led Dallas with 31 and 29 points a piece, while game-ending hero DeRozan killed the Mavericks with an efficient 33 point night of his own.

Perhaps what hurts more than losing a crucial chance to stockpile wins down the stretch in a brutal Western Conference playoff race was, once again, letting a season sweep of the Spurs slip through their fingers. Dallas still has yet to accomplish the feat despite having the chance in back-to-back seasons.

Slow Starts throughout

Dallas fell into a bad habit of flat starts tonight, then forcing themselves to play catchup to draw even. Looking at the Game Flow chart from ESPN, you can see the scoring flatline to start nearly every quarter.

On the one hand, it’s nice that Dallas found it within themselves to fight back every wave the Spurs threw at them, but they ultimately couldn’t find the scoring momentum to pull out the win.

Live or Die by the Three

Love it or hate it, the three ball is a bigger part of the NBA than ever before, and the Mavericks play in a way that makes it hard to win when their deep shot isn’t falling.

In this game, they shot a meager 31%, going 13-of-42 from beyond the arc. When you dedicate nearly 50% of your shots from the field to three pointers and they don’t go down, you’re going to have problems. San Antonio isn’t a big 3-point shooting team, but still managed to hit eight of their 21 attempts. In addition, their game consisting mostly of an inside-the-arc scheme saw them rack up 27 free throw attempts to Dallas’ 15. The Mavericks shot it great from the stripe, hitting all but one of their attempts, but they didn’t earn enough trips to make the difference.

A big Porzingis performance

Porzingis came out hot and ended the first half with 20 points and 10 rebounds — his third first half double-double in the last seven games. When he had just four shots in the third quarter, you could hear the warning bells start to go off across MFFL twitter.

Porzingis’s performance at the end of games had become a bit of a talking point following games against Boston and Houston when he wasn’t involved down the stretch. That wasn’t the case here, as his seven 4th quarter points led Dallas, even as he picked up his sixth and final foul, causing him to miss the last couple possessions, which was a shame. He was active on the boards all night, finishing with 31 and 15, as well as two blocks. The only thing missing was the win.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.